Surviving spouse rights (also called widow’s rights) in Connecticut include:
- Intestate Share
- Elective Share
- Support Allowance
- Omitted Spouse Rights
What Are Surviving Spouse Rights in Connecticut If There Is No Will?
When someone dies without a will, they have died intestate. This means that Connecticut law will control the shares that decedent’s heirs receive from the estate. In the event the decedent dies without a will, Connecticut intestacy laws provide that the surviving spouse has the right to receive the following share of the decedent’s estate:
- If no issue or parent: the entire estate;
- If no issue but one or more parents: the first $100,000 plus three-quarters of the balance;
- If there are surviving issue all of whom are also issue of the surviving spouse: the first $100,000 plus one=half of the balance of the estate;
- If there are surviving issue one or more of whom are not issue of the surviving spouse: one-half of the balance of the estate.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-437(a).
Surviving Spouse’s Right To a Statutory Share – Election Against Will
Under Connecticut law, a surviving spouse has the right to elect to take against the Will and petition for a statutory share of the estate. A surviving spouse might choose to elect against the deceased spouse’s will if the surviving spouse was disinherited under the will or left very little.
Amount of Surviving Spouse’s Statutory Share
The surviving spouse’s “statutory share” amounts to one-third of the estate for his or her life. This statutory share means a life estate of one-third in value of the entire property passing under the will, real and personal, legally or equitably owned by the deceased spouse at the time of his or her death, after the payment of all debts and charges against the estate. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-436(a).
However, the surviving spouse may not bequeath this property his or her own heirs. The life estate entitles the Connecticut surviving spouse the right to use and possess said property until death. When the surviving spouse dies, the surviving spouse’s portion of the life estate will revert back to the decedent’s other heirs or beneficiaries.
Deadline For Surviving Spouse to File For Statutory Share
The surviving spouse shall file a notice in writing of his or her intention to take the statutory share with the probate court where the estate is pending not later than one hundred fifty (150) days from the date of the appointment of the first fiduciary. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-436(c).
Rights If Surviving Spouse Is Omitted From Will
Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-257(a), if a testator fails to provide by will for the testator’s surviving spouse who married the testator after the execution of the will, the surviving spouse shall receive the same share of the estate the surviving spouse would have received if the decedent left no will. However, if it appears from the will that the omission was intentional, or the testator provided for the surviving spouse by transfer outside the will and the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision is shown by the testator’s statements, or is reasonably inferred from the amount of the transfer or other evidence the surviving spouse is not entitled to this intestate share.
Support Allowance For Surviving Spouse
The surviving spouse may be afforded an allowance for support during the settlement of the estate in the discretion of the Court of Probate. This may include real or personal property in an amount deemed necessary by the judge for the surviving spouse’s support. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-320(a).
Provision by Prior Written Contract
Like many states, Connecticut probate law will honor the contractual agreement made between spouses made prior or subsequent to the marriage regarding the statutory share of the surviving spouse in the property of the deceased. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-320(f).